Former Canadian international Sean White has been named head coach of the Canadian men’s rugby sevens team through next year’s Paris Olympics.
White has been an assistant coach since April 2022 and took over as interim head coach last November when Henry Paul stepped down after one event on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, now known as the HSBC SVNS.
Canada finished 14th in the season standings, facing relegation with the World Series reducing the number of men’s teams to 12 from 16 to align with the women’s competition and the Olympic field. But the Canadian men and White won a four-team relegation playoff in London in May, defeating No. 13 Kenya 12-7 in a dramatic playoff final to preserve their core status on the circuit.
Olympic qualification remains on the table after the Canadians lost 24-14 to the U.S. in the final of the Rugby Americas North Sevens in August in Langford, B.C. White’s team has one final chance to qualify at the Olympic Repechage Tournament, whose location and date have yet to be announced.
The Canadian men’s next challenge is Nov. 3-4 at the Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile. Canada beat Argentina to win gold at both the 2011 and 2015 Pan Ams but lost to the Pumas in the 2019 final.
The eight-stop HSBC SVNS season opens Dec. 1 in Dubai.
“I’m really pleased to be able to carry on with this group another season as we continue to build as a collective,” White said in a statement. “I truly believe this group has only scratched the surface of its capability and has something special inside of it. We saw it in moments last season in Toulouse, in London, and in other games throughout the year.”
The Canadians finished fourth in Toulouse, the tournament prior to London. Their previous best showing of the season was 10th place in the opening stop in Hong Kong.
A native of Victoria, White won 32 caps for Canada and played at the 2011 Rugby World Cup. He also played 28 games for the Canadian sevens side, competed in two Commonwealth Games and won gold at the 2011 and 2015 Pan Ams.
Rugby Canada says White has been mentored by veteran Australian coach Scott Johnson, who has served as director of rugby for both Scotland and Australia and was interim coach of Scotland.
“The growth that our men’s sevens team has demonstrated over this past year has been encouraging,” Rugby Canada CEO Nathan Bombrys said in a statement. “Sean’s approach has been built around continuous growth and improvement as a team, and you can see the boys have been really playing for each other during these past few tournaments.
“We’ve seen Sean grow as a coach and his collaboration with our wider national team programs has been very positive.”
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